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February 08, 2024

Angels Design Sustainable Homes

STEM students thrive at the Academy of the Holy Angels, where a group of teen engineers just built sustainable model homes. On February 6, members of Women in STEM presented their solar-powered creations to faculty members at an “open house,” where viewers were encouraged to open the models and examine the internal electrical components.

Stephanie Chan provides a ‘tour’ of her team’s model home.


“After they built their Rube Goldberg, the students said they wanted to build houses,” engineering teacher Jing Loo explained, referring to an earlier challenge. (Learn more by visiting .) “The students investigated renewable energy, including solar and wind power, and conducted experiments before they constructed their model homes. They also learned how to store power to a rechargeable battery to light the house after the sun sets.”


Following a minor mishap, the students also learned an important lesson about using resistors to regulate voltage.


The models survived an “earthquake” and a “hurricane.” (Loo subjected the houses to a vigorous shaking before turning a hair dryer on them.)


Katelyn Lee of Cresskill, Marina Poire of Dumont, Charlize Glaser of Old Tappan, and Rachelle Wu of Harrington Park designed and built a single-story, solar-powered structure with multiple interior lights. Clips allowed curious guests to raise the roof and take a closer look at their engineering work.

Stephanie, Julianna, Gabriella, Rachelle, Katelyn, and Marina with their model homes. Not pictured: Charlize G.


Stephanie Chan of Closter, Gabriella Ragucci of Harrington Park, and Julianna Dail of Saddle River designed a modern structure with an angled roofline that featured a solar panel. The rooftop also included a flat element that was used an outdoor balcony complete with a table and chairs. Inside, they built a staircase that was illuminated with multicolored lights. Guests were able to lift the angled section of the roof (which was attached with hinges) to view the circuitry.

Ms. Jennifer Lee (left) takes a closer look at one of the model homes as Rachelle and Marina discuss their work.


Both teams agreed that their experience building the Rube Goldberg drove home the importance of planning in advance and collaborating with every team member to make the best use of each person’s expertise. They carried that lesson forward as they worked on their sustainable homes.


Loo said her students’ next project will include activating sensors and motors with microprocessors – a challenge that will involve coding.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many cultural and religious backgrounds. AHA’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others. Visit to learn more and schedule a tour.